Friday, November 30, 2012

Contact Me

I have had a number of people request that I contact them.  The trouble is that almost all of them do so through commenting on this blog.

Though I do have it set up that I can email people via comments, most people who comment on my blog have their settings set to "No-reply Comment"  Which means that I cannot reply to your comments.

If you do not know how to change this, please note that I have an email address listed in my profile.  You are welcome to contact me via that route.

I honestly want to email people back regarding their questions, concerns or other. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Learning the Hard Way

I will never understand why everything seems to feel like learning to walk again.  I hear that it’s pretty common for spouses to be forbidden to talk about PTSD.  My husband has gone so far as to forbid me from joining support groups too.  That means that everything I know is learned that absolute hardest way possible.  Everything I share here, every lesson I apply to our life, it’s all from walking into disaster and then making it worse. 

I’m sharing this because I need you all to know that it’s not easy.  They are angry, they don’t like themselves, which means they can’t like you  either and they probably have no idea what triggers any of their outbursts.  This means that the spouse is the one left to care for everything and also to figure out what to do to diffuse the situation.  This means that it’s been up to me to figure out what triggers his different behaviors, what works to stop an escalation and what doesn’t and it means that I’ve learned it all by doing it wrong a few times.

Whoever you are out there who might be reading this, I’m in this with you.  I understand what it’s like to feel like you are blindfolded in a field of landmines.  I know what it feels like to have no idea what you did this time to start a fight, nor what you are doing to make it worse. 

I have grown incredibly frustrated with websites.  They are full of invaluable resources, but so often, it feels to me like they make it look so easy.  “All you have to do is work full time, take care of your kids and/or pets, pay all the bills, keep your whole life running, and create a plan that helps your spouse. “  I want to shout,”Oh, Is that ALL?”  If I could, I would love to throw something.

It’s not easy.  It’s not easy to feel like you have to hold it together, keep your chin up, be strong, and also take care of every detail of your collective life while also doing everything in your power to help your spouse.  In fact, it’s the opposite of easy.  I would equate it to walking over hot coals while trying to balance a tea pot full of hot tea on your head without using your hands and not being allowed to spill a drop.  See, doesn’t that sound soooo easy?

Here’s what I can tell you about it all of these suggestions you will read on the various PTSD websites:  They are worth your consideration.  No, it’s not going to be easy adding one more task to your life, but when you do find those triggers, when you do find what works, that will be an even bigger stress that is now managed.  It’s worth a try at least. 

My husband didn’t respond to the various lists I created to remind him of things and he never checks the emails I send him, so I still don’t have anything to help him remember to clean the shower.  But I did find what works to help keep him from escalating when he is angry.  And I discovered that it often takes at least 12 hours before he will be ready to talk about the situation.  That’s progress.

So don’t give up yet.  I know that every day is a crap shoot.  I know that some days I’m optimistic about things and some days I feel utterly hopeless.  But I wake up each day and I keep trying.  It’s not a short process, but it’s a process none the less and one without any quick fixes available. 


Monday, November 26, 2012

After The War

 Background Flag used courtesy of
After the war, life was never the same.

For some strange reason, everyone thinks that the war ending and the troops being pulled out means that life just magically returns to normal.  Like there was never a war to begin with.  But there was a war.  It lasted 10+ years (depending on who you ask).  We may not, as a nation, have ever officially declared war, but troops deployed, bullets were fired, people died and lives were forever changed.

After the war, if you want to say it's over now, nothing changed for us.

Why must people insist on saying things like, "Well, you can rest easy now, hun?"  No, I can't.  It's true that not many people in our life know what we are dealing with.  Who wants to have to tell everyone they know that they break out in cold sweats because of something on the TV?  I understand why my husband wants us to keep this a secret.  But none the less, secret or not, the war ending doesn't fix things.

Lives were altered.  Not just ours, but for thousands.  Thousands of people, families, friends, spouses lives were forever changed when this war began.  This never ending war that feels like it's just quietly being fought these days.  There are still people deploying.  Even if you don't want to hear about it.  There are still those who are never coming home again, even if you weren't paying attention.

And then there's us.

After the war, life was never the same.  The man I married is gone forever.  The girl I was, or at least thought I was, is gone.  The girl who took her place is a hardened, often sad, woman (because I am officially a woman now), who doesn't recognize her own husband, let alone her self.   The man in my house is an angry shadow of who he once was.

But wars must be fought, freedoms defended and sacrifices made.  But some sacrifices feel like heavier burdens than other.  Giving up my husband for a year was nothing, but he gave up so much more...  And the war ending cannot give it back to him.  The war ending cannot undo what he has been through and the battle we are still fighting at home. 

After the war, life just isn't the same. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012


This Thanksgiving, I hope you will remember those who are not able to be with their families.  Whether it be military service or other forces that keep them apart, think of them while you are gathering with your loved ones and send them good thoughts.

Missed holidays are very common place in this military life, but that doesn't make them any easier. 

I feel blessed that I will get to see my husband for a short time today, but my thoughts will be with all of those still serving overseas, who will not be so fortunate.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Real Love

Real love is the thing of myths surrounded by clouds of romanticized ideas.  We spend so much time reading quotes about the perfect person for us.  We hear cautionary tales of about who not to trust your heart to.  We spend years and lifetimes yearning for the man who holds a boom box in the air outside of our bedroom window to tell us they love us.

But real love, not the kind where true loves first kiss awakens the princess, but real, honest, raw and sometimes painful love is none of these things.  It is running into the arms of someone who isn’t always perfect, never says the right thing and wondering if what you have will glow brightly for all to see, or burn in flames.

So much of love is what we are told we should want, we should expect and what we think we are supposed to feel.  But I’m not a romantic at heart, I’ve just spent my whole life being told that my lover should do romantic things.  But what I've got instead is a man who secretly fixes the closet door that has been sticking for years.  He takes the garbage out every week, so that I can sleep in.  
There are no large romantic gestures, perfectly placed words or intensely tender moments.  But I have real love.  I have a love that looks into the face of the man I married knowing that the face I’m staring at is the face of a stranger.  I love him, even when he can’t love me back.  I love him through his anger at the world, his frustration and his pain.

I love him through isolation.  My carefully chosen words when talking about work, life, my frustrations and irritations are all so that I do not trigger pain in my husbands mind.  It often means that I can’t tell him about what I really do for a living and much of our discussions and connections are on a very superficial level. 

But, you see, my love is not based on always apologizing with roses, or even holding hands at sunset.  We don’t take long walks in the park, or have candle lit dinners.  There are no surprise gifts for me, no kisses in the rain .  But there is love.  Real love.  There is the kind of love that aches because I can’t take his pain away.  The kind of love that leaves me wishing I could take his place so that he can stop hurting.  
We may go days without talking, he may be angry for months, but I still look at the empty space in my life and know that he will fill it back up again someday.  I look at him and know that someday, I will know this man as well as I knew the man I married.  Because the kind of love I have, is the patient kind.

I will continue to love and continue to wait.  I will continue to hurt and continue to feel lonely. I will be here, no matter what, because the kind of love we have is real love.  It’s not the stuff of myths and legends.  It’s not shrouded in romantic ideals or flowing, well places words.  It simply is.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Letter to Myself

Dear You, yes, you going through that deployment,

I can’t promise you that it works out the way you lay in bed dreaming about.  In fact, this deployment will change a lot more than you ever imagined.  I know you have spent night after night crawling in bed at 5:30pm just to avoid the time of day that you miss him most.  When he comes home, sometimes you will look at the empty spot he sleeps in and wonder why you still feel like you are waiting.

But please know this, please know that when he smiles at you, even though it’s not quite the same, you will see that little bit of who he was before he left.   Please know, that through it all, he will survive, and so you will you.  Please know, that the perfect life you had planned will never happen, but what you will end up with is a life that you appreciate more than you will ever truly realize.

I know you have spent time fighting while he has been gone.  I don’t know why some couples do that, but they do.  And I know that some days you would rather fight with him and be angry than not hear from him at all, because every second he is on the phone with you is a moment that you know for sure, at least for now, that he is alive.  And I know that the days, sometimes weeks, in between those seconds feel like an eternity, during which you might go mad. 

You tell yourself, “If I can survive this, I can survive anything,” and I wish that were true.  I wish I could reach back in time and tell you that surviving the deployment is only half the battle.  I wish I could shout that into the universe so that every military spouse can hear my words and understand that waking up each day struggling to get out of bed until he is home again will not compare to the battle to be fought at home.  Not everyone will have to fight that battle, but the simple truth is that you will.

This deployment, for all its terrible pain and heartache, will give you some of the strength that you will need in the days to come.  But you are so much stronger than you think and it’s time that you start to rely on that strength, because the coming days will be tough.  But in the end, though the life you planned on having will be no where to be seen, the one you have will be worth fighting for. The life you have will be a life together, and no matter how bad things get, you will still wake up everyday thankful that at the very least, you’ve got that.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is "normal"

I can't tell you much about why my husband is going through.  I can only tell you what I see and how I feel.  I am finding more and more that everything out there is about your spouse.  How he feels, what he thinks and what you should be doing in response.  But what about how we spouses feel?  What about what we go through as a result?

I understand my job is to be strong and stand by him.  I get that I have to help him.  But what is normal to be feeling?  No one seems to be able to tell me.  There probably isn't a "normal" way to feel, so much as a common way that many people feel.  But I'm tired of wondering if this is "normal" or common.

I say all of this because it seems to me that I am having a hard time coping with my responses to my husband almost as much as I am having a hard time helping him.  He is not interested in fixing things.  When I try to talk to him, he gets this blank, arrogant stare.  He patronizes me.  He crosses his arms and gets a smirk on his face like I don't know anything.  He constantly treats me like I should just take whatever he dishes out.  I don't know what to say, but I often feel like he is owning his diagnosis in a way that says, "I'm the one with PTSD, you don't know shit about it.  Nothing you can say matters because my diagnosis gives me the ability to behave however I want."

Any time I try to talk to him, he gets that arrogant smirk and shuts me out.

After we have those days, I shut down.  I have given up a lot to help this man that I love and when he behaves that way, all I can do is sit on my couch and do nothing.  As in, I lack the motivation to do anything.  The aftermath of our altercations, our fights, our "discussions," our lack of communication is horrible.  I just sit and can't cope.

What do I do? I don't know.  I don't know if this weird, arrogant behavior is common.  I don't know if it's "normal" for them to behave this way. I don't know if it's common for me to sit on my couch the next day unable to find the proper motivation to do anything.  I just don't know.


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